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Monday, August 31, 2009

Tocade by Rochas: A cologne in search of a perfume

By Donna

I am a big fan of Rochas and its opulent perfumes; the name of one of them, Byzantine, seems to describe the house’s ornate style perfectly. I greatly admire Byzance, I currently own Absolu and Alchimie, and I am trying to decide if I want to spring for the modern formulations of Madame Rochas and/or Femme, since I know what the vintage versions were like. I mourn the original Lumière, and I have no idea why it “needed” to be reformulated. But there is one I had never tried, since I assumed it was inferior due to its eternal presence in the discount bins. Surprisingly I found on a recent visit that it is carried at my favorite upscale perfume shop, so after all this time I finally got around to trying Tocade.

One could easily be put off by the odd bottle; it looks like it was designed by a James Bond villain in partnership with a fast-food franchise, with its incongruous proportions (the similar packaging of its sister scent Tocadilly nearly requires eye-bleach to get past the psychedelic outward appearance) and tippy zaniness. Never mind about that, just close your eyes and sniff, for this is a really nice scent, a soft vanillic rose and iris that is hazy and romantic. One interesting feature is that the further away from the skin my nose gets, the more vanilla I smell, while if I press close I get rose and green notes; yet all I have to do is move a few inches away and there is the vanilla, refined and very pretty and not gourmand at all. Tocade is not a heavy hitter like most scents in the Rochas repertoire, but it stands up well against them, at least the modern ones. (Not sure what could hope to compete with vintage Femme!)

What puzzles me about this 1994 fragrance created by the great Maurice Roucel, now discontinued, is why it’s only available in an Eau de Toilette; it is crying out for a more concentrated formula, at least an Eau de Parfum if not a Parfum. The floral part of it is just shy of being too thin, especially since the “rose” note is actually geranium, and I think it would be luscious and gloriously rounded if it had the chance. As it is, my nose keeps “reaching” for more and finding it just out of range. I have looked high and low, on every discount site and auction listing I could find, and it is only available in the EDT, in the 1.7 oz size or the huge 3.4 oz. bottle, except for one .25 oz bottle of Parfum I located which I suspect was a limited edition or else discontinued long before the EDT was. (It was expensive, too!) It’s very good the way it is, and highly wearable for any situation, but I am at a loss to figure out why Rochas, of all houses, did not make a more intense fragrance when that is where their strength lies. I wonder if it would have succeeded in the marketplace with the added punch of an EDP to offer instead of being relegated mostly to the discounters. It’s everywhere, and can easily be had for under $25 and frequently much less, even for the big bottle. This is really a “what might have been” scent for me. I like it very much and I might even buy it, considering the price, but it could have been true love if it had a much-deserved upgrade.

Image credit: Tocade bottle and box from perfumela.com.

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22 Comments:

Blogger chayaruchama said...

Ah, Donna.

I suspect that Tocade- in a more essential form-
Might have been felt- at the time-
To be "too much of a good thing "...

Being the buttery, full-fleshed thing that it is, perhaps it was merely marketing.
Who can say ?

I certainly would have worn an extrait of this one.
I find it strangely comforting....

7:54 AM EDT  
Blogger Mals86 said...

Wow, you felt Tocade was somewhat thin and needed some amping up for presence and projection?

I bought a bottle from an online discounter at the beginning of this summer. I thought it was too heavy for warm weather and placed it in a box in my closet for a few months, along with a few other winter fragrances, before moving it to a cabinet elsewhere. Although it's no longer stored there, I open my closet door and the Tocade immediately throws its arms around me, as if it were drunk and amorous and unable to stand up straight without help.

I find it to be an excellent balance between sexy and comforting, and often wear it to bed. Can't imagine it *more* potent... although it might be slightly more ladylike in parfum.

10:08 AM EDT  
Blogger ScentScelf said...

Rochas is kind of the house that nearly is, isn't it? It seems to me that they don't get enough love or attention, and worries me that perhaps that is because they don't have a big name or big price. I, too, admire Byzance and Madame Rochas, even in the current formulation. I think they are absolutely solid, have identity of their own, and I am grateful I don't have to rearrange the household budget to even consider purchasing a bottle.

I think Tocade is a kind of rosy comfort, with enough interest to keep it from being cloying comfort or simple minded. I like that the sweet, the powder, and the rose are all "just out of reach," and that it is definitely a sum of its parts kind of fragrance.

10:59 AM EDT  
Blogger Patty said...

Turin in "Perfumes-The Guide" is so reverential towards this fragrance that I had to try it. My reaction upon testing - meh. It is certainly pleasant enough, and unobnoxious, but why would I wear it when there is Femme? (I have the latter in what I assume is the reformulation, and I love it). I agree with you that a more concentrated version might give this one some character.

12:56 PM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Oh, you're so right! And edp of Tocade would be heavenly! And thanks for reminding me about Alchimie. I used to wear it all the time, but haven't pulled out my bottle for a few years now. Must go rescue it from such undeserved neglect.

1:57 PM EDT  
Anonymous Flora said...

Chaya, it would probably be a huge perfume in a higher concentration, I agree. But in a good way!

3:57 PM EDT  
Anonymous Flora said...

Mals86, I know, you think I'm crazy, but please consider that I am the one who is still looking for some affordable Nahema PARFUM, as if the PDT is not potent enough. (Just lost out by about $1.00 on a little vintage bottle too!!!)

Love the closet door story, guess I had better buy some of the cologne anyway if it's going to do that. :-)

4:02 PM EDT  
Anonymous Flora said...

ScentSelf, I really don't think Rochas gets enough respect, and I just love their perfumes. I am at a loss to figure out why Absolu and Alchimie are both discontinued, not to mention Tocade. (For the most part they are all affordable, but just try to find Alchimie at MSRP now! The word is out...)

Tocade is most certainly a comfort scent, and I think I will have to add it to my collection for the cool weather coming soon.

4:06 PM EDT  
Anonymous Flora said...

Patty, I do have to give huge props to Rochas for their reformulations of both Femme and MR - they are very good indeed, and far better than most of the other altered versions I have tried. If only all the other prestige houses would follow suit when they have to rework a scent.

4:10 PM EDT  
Anonymous Flora said...

Elle, I knew YOU would understand! :-D

I am almost out of Alchimie, and I have been looking for it online and it may as well be an SL bell jar as far as price at some stores and still discounted at others, so it really pays to shop around for it, now that it's off the market. It would be awesome if Rochas brought it back.

4:15 PM EDT  
Anonymous Olfacta said...

I love Rochas fragrances, although I wear Tocade mostly as a sleep scent. They're so reasonably priced and they're all interesting. Agree that they don't get enough love. I just wish I could find some Mystere without having to wipe out such a big chunk of the budget!

4:23 PM EDT  
Anonymous Flora said...

Olfacta, I was just thinking the very same thing about Mystere! (When I can find it for sale online, and that is not often, I blanch at the price.)

6:18 PM EDT  
Blogger Eleven European Mystics said...

Tocade was mine at the time, truly mine...it was Tocade, pearls, and Tocade. Many years ago. Then, for biographical reasons, I used too many to remember it. When I came across Dama by Laura Tonatto something hit me, like a wrong message from my past.All those things Tocade I didn't want with me anymore,came up. Dama is not Tocade, but it is a startingly close relative. In fact it helped me integrate those past days into my present time. Fragrances do that. Alchimie was a wintertime treasure, with its deliciousness, but at that time I found Fath de Fath, and was under its sultry spell for a couple of years.

9:10 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they actually did make a parfum version of tocade, which i wore a lot of a while back. i found it at, of all places, tjmaxx! was completely shocked that it existed, and that i'd found it there. i need to go revisit it.

- cheers, minette

4:19 PM EDT  
Anonymous Flora said...

EEM, I know what it's like to associate a scent with a bad time in one's life - I hope you and Tocade can get along again someday!

4:28 PM EDT  
Anonymous Flora said...

Minette, I will have to look for that, it must very rare! Thanks for commenting!

4:29 PM EDT  
Blogger Eleven European Mystics said...

:-) Dama is as far as I got in my integrative quest. Oh....but if I ever find a drop of the original Lumiere, then, why did they reformulate? Why? :-(

3:47 AM EDT  
Blogger Leon said...

I absolutely agree with you. This is an excellent fragance. Like this, there are many ones looking for a deserved comeback.

12:07 PM EDT  
Anonymous Claudia0219 said...

I must agree this is definitely a fragrance that deserves a big come back. I love the gourmand side of it, it remind me a lot of KM Loukhoum. This is definitely a cooler weather fragrance or a cozy bedtime after a nice shower scent. YUM YUM. :)

9:19 PM EDT  
Anonymous Allen said...

I bought a bottle from an online discounter at fragranceville.com beginning of this summer. I like it very much.!!

6:09 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

come on gang. dont let them make fools of us. they reformulate, make it cheaper and raise the price. oh and most important destroy really great colognes. but people still keep buying them. we should not, then mabey they will leave things alone.

4:29 PM EDT  
Blogger Cologneguru said...

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8:46 PM EDT  

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